Brrrrrrrr…. Colder Weather Is Here!

Posted on 11/14/2014

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Last night brought the season’s first dusting of snow to our area, along with much colder temperatures. We all want to be warm and toasty indoors during the late fall and winter months, but most of us are also concerned about the higher utility bills that could follow. Here’s a simple tip that can help with that.

Applying caulk and insulation to seal the cracks and openings in your home’s exterior helps keep the air you pay to heat or cool in your home while keeping the outside air out — and that can lower your utility bill. Use these suggestions from the Paint Quality Institute to get the job done right: 

Look For Problem Areas

Begin the battle with a walk-around inspection of your home’s exterior.

Make a list of cracks, gaps or holes – especially where different surfaces meet, or where pipes and vents penetrate the walls.

Look at your old caulk. Is it cracked or separated from the surrounding surface? These areas are energy sieves and prime spots to caulk or insulate.

If you find old caulk that is damaged or deficient, remove every last bit of it with a scraper or putty knife.

Clean the adjacent surfaces, then sand them smooth. Prime any areas where bare wood shows so the new caulk adheres properly and creates a weather-tight seal.

Buy The Right Caulk

When purchasing replacement caulk, choose a top quality product. The best choices are water-based all-acrylic caulk, or siliconized acrylic caulk. Similarly named “silicone” caulks can’t be painted.

Be systematic when applying the new caulk. Work your way around the exterior of your home, completing each wall or surface area before moving on to the next.

Fill every gap and seam with a generous bead of caulk. Remember, this is your defense against air loss, so you don’t want to skimp.

As soon as you apply the bead of caulk, run a wet finger over the full length of the bead, using a slight amount of pressure. By “tooling” the caulk in this way, you’ll ensure it adheres to the surrounding surface and tightly seals the space.

If some gaps are too large to caulk – typically, those that are more than a quarter-inch wide – fill them instead with a polyurethane foam insulation product.

Unlike caulk, which has a tendency to shrink slightly as it dries, some polyurethane foam products actually expand after being applied, making them ideal for filling large openings and cavities in your home.

Check Your Work

After working your way around your home and filling every gap and opening, take a short break. Then, walk around your home one last time to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Don’t be surprised if you spot a few areas that still need attention. Put the final touches on your work, then put your tools away, stay warmer inside your home this winter, and enjoy your savings!